Acting for Others

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Pascale Bonnemère — HAU Books 2018

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Acting for Others
Relational Transformations in Papua New Guinea

Translated by Nora Scott
Foreword by Marilyn Strathern


Résumé par l'éditeur :
For the Ankave of Papua New Guinea, men, unlike women, do not reach adulthood andFor the Ankave of Papua New Guinea, men, unlike women, do not reach adulthood andbecome fathers simply by growing up and reproducing. The content of a certain number ofrelationships (with their mother, their eldest sister) must have first undergone a transformation.These changes take place in several stages, which are materialized by rituals in which the menand women perform complementary actions in separate spaces.
Based on first-hand ethnographic material gathered by a team of two anthropologists ofdifferent gender, this analysis of the Ankave ritual cycle for the first time places the male andfemale roles side by side, using material gathered by the author from the women in the village,and by her co-ethnographer from the men in the forest. The parallel material has made itpossible to interpret them as a place and moment in which the novices’ relations with certainkinswomen undergoes a transformation.
At the heart of this process is the idea that it is possible to act for and upon another, byobeying food taboos and drastically limiting one’s own activities. Analysis of the behaviorsrespected for the most part by the women on behalf of male kinsmen are a vital link in theargument developed, as is the idea that the different stages of rituals forms a sequence, and havethus to be studied together. This new ethnographic material on the involvement of women inmale initiations not only sheds a fresh light on the extant analyses, but also suggests anotherway of approaching life-cycle rituals in general.

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